Wired: US Air Force Quietly Assembling Near Iran
Wired's David Axe reported Friday that "[t]he US Air Force is quietly assembling the world's most powerful air-to-air fighting team at bases near Iran." The "aerial armada" includes a formidable team of F-22 Raptors and Air National Guard F-15 Eagles. According to Axe, "[t]he Raptor-Eagle team has been honing special tactics for clearing the air of Iranian fighters in the event of war. The fighters join a growing naval armada that includes Navy carriers, submarines, cruisers and destroyers plus patrol boats enhanced with the latest close-in weaponry."
According to Axe, the Air Force has not "maintained a significant dogfighting presence in the Middle East" for years. In the years following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US Air Force deployed ground-attack fighters "such as A-10s, F-16s, and twin-seat F-15E Strike Eagles". In light of structural problems with the "1980s-vintage F-15Cs", Axe reported that "[t]he Air Force fixed the F-15s and partially patched up the F-22s just in time for the escalating stand-off over Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program." Axe: "In March the Air Force deployed the Massachusetts Air National Guard's 104th Fighter Wing, flying 20 standard F-15Cs, to an 'undisclosed' air base in Southwest Asia"; Axe suggested that this air base is either in the United Arab Emirates or Qatar. Col. Robert Brooks has said that the Massachusetts Guardsmen would be ready "should Iran test the 104th".
Axe discussed that the "US dogfighting armada" assembling near Iran would likely use tactical methods such as the silent exchange of data through radio data-links and flying in stealth mode in small numbers in order to "wipe out the antiquated but determined Iranian air force" in the event that war breaks out in the Middle East. Even so, Axe concluded in that even though the air-to-air fighters and pilots are ready, "[h]opefully they won't be needed."
In light of increasing military tension in the Middle East, the Associated Press reported Thursday that Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz has said that "other countries have readied their armed forces for a potential strike against Iran's nuclear sites to keep Tehran from acquiring atomic weapons." Whereas Gantz did not elaborate as to which nations are willing to support an attack or take direct action against Iran, Gantz's "comments were one of the strongest hints yet that Israel may have the backing of other countries" in possibly striking Iran. Gantz: "The military force is ready. Not only our forces, but other forces as well." Gantz told the Associated Press, "We all hope that there will be no necessity to use this force, but we are absolutely sure of its existence."
Interestingly, MarketWatch's Claudia Assis reported Friday that the price of oil has risen near its 4-week high. Assis: "Oil futures on Friday extended a winning streak to a fourth day, shaking off initial weakness to end modestly higher." West Texas Intermediate crude oil is currently trading at $104.72 per barrel.
I recently discussed how we may see oil futures rise considerably in the days and weeks before a military strike if the market anticipates that Iran will be attacked. Traders who believe that the price of oil will rise in the near future in light of military tension in the Middle East may want to take a look at ProShares Ultra DJ-AIG Crude Oil ETF (NYSE: UCO), iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return (NYSE: OIL), PowerShares DB Oil Fund (NYSE: DBO), and PowerShares DB Crude Oil Long ETN (NYSE: OLO).
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